Messy? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. Worth every time-consuming, messy moment? Yes, yes and yes!! This Cherry Vanilla Jam is perfection and I'm here to tell you that you NEED this in your life. And with cherry season just beginning and the shortness of that season, the time to get to this is NOW!! Just imagine opening up your fridge every morning, knowing that there are few delicious jars of this just waiting for you!! Makes mornings a lot more fun. If you're a cherry fan, I promise you're going to adore this!!
Making cherry jam has been on my bucket list for a long time. Last year I blinked and missed the entire cherry season! So a few days ago, when I was in the store and saw that not only were cherries on sale but that there was an additional coupon, I broke down and bought several pounds...and started pitting. Truthfully, that's the only hard part of this. It does take some time, If you have a cherry pitter that'll help and no matter what, take my advice and wear rubber gloves or emerge from the experience with purple stained fingers!!!
Cherries always make me think of my Grammie. On car trips home from the beach, she would hand each of kids in the backseat 10 cherries and announce, "I give you 10 cherries, you give me 10 pits". No kids swallowing pits on her watch!!
Now back to this jam. Once all the pits are gone, the rest is a breeze. There's no gelatin or canning required. All you do is place the cherries, along with some sugar, lemon juice and vanilla beans in a big pot and let them cook down until they've thickened into a jam-like consistency.
Guys, this is heavenly! Sweet, but not overly so and chock full of pieces of real cherry with a hint of vanilla wafting through it all. It's terrific on toast or on top of peanut butter.
Or of course, you may want to eat it by the spoonful right out of the jar! I won't tell!
I know you're crazy busy but if you've got any window of time this weekend (and a helper to pit all those cherries) I urge you to put this on your agenda. I'm already thinking about making a second batch. I'm helpless against the power of the cherry?!!
Cherry Vanilla Jam
Makes 5-6 cups
It really helps to use a cherry pitter if you have one and a pair of gloves to keep from staining your hands
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus time to pit cherries; Cook Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
- 3 pounds fresh cherries (about 6 cups), pitted and roughly chopped
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Place the cherries and sugar in a large pot. Split the vanilla beans down the middle and scrape the seeds into the pot. You can save the pods for another use. Stir everything together and allow the mixture to sit for about 15-20 minutes, so that some of the liquid from the cherries gets released. Place a small plate in the freezer.
2. Place the pot over medium heat and let the mixture come to a simmer. Stir in the lemon juice. Then let the mixture cook for at least another 45 minutes, stirring every now and then, so that most of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens. You'll notice it's frothy in the beginning and that that will disappear as it keeps cooking.
3. When you think the jam is thick enough, remove the chilled plate and put a small spoonful of the jam on the plate. Return the plate to the freezer for 3-4 minutes. If the jam has jelled, it's ready. If not, you can let it cook for another 10-15 minutes and retest.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. The jam will thicken as it cools. Once it's completely cool, transfer to mason jars or other airtight containers and chill in the fridge. It will last for up to a month (but not at the rate that we're eating it!!)
Note: Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley.